Vapors of Morphine performs the music of 90s “low rock” cult band Morphine alongside new sounds — ethereal, hypnotic and expansive. Formed over a decade ago by Morphine saxophonist Dana Colley with singer & multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Lyons, and Morphine’s original drummer Jerome Deupree, the group now includes drummer Tom Arey (J. Geils Band, Peter Wolfe’s Midnight Ramblers, Ghosts of Jupiter). Their latest album, Fear & Fantasy (featuring both drummers), comes out on Schnitzel Records in a combined 180 gram coloured marbled vinyl/CD audiophile package.
Vapors of Morphine honours Mark Sandman’s legacy by blazing musical paths in new directions. A restless spirit, Sandman headed several bands in different styles, some of which shine through Vapors. The influence of Southern American music is heard in Lyons’s swamp-tinged treatment of traditional songs. Colley’s processed saxophone — testing the upper limits of low rock and blurring the line between wind instrument and electric guitar — continues the Morphine tradition of sonic exploration. And the group’s arrangements of African guitar music bring to mind the variety of world music one experiences walking around the multicultural Central Square, Cambridge, where there is a corner named for Mark Sandman.
Their new album Fear & Fantasy represents both a new era and a return to form for Vapors. There are new songs and sounds, including a lot of guitar and Colley’s electric “low sax,” but also the familiar rumble of two-string, slide bass. In its often-lush arrangement, it recalls Morphine’s final album, The Night, where Deupree teamed up with Billy Conway, the drummer who had replaced him; this time Arey plays on one side, Deupree on the other. It only seems fitting when both bands have been blessed with a revolving cast of top-notch percussionists.
Contrary to the obvious misconception, Morphine was named for the ancient Greek dream deity Morpheus, not for the drug. But the Vapors of Morphine experience is an alleviation that can take you places people only visit in dreams. Nevertheless, Vapors of Morphine music might be pulling the listener deeper and deeper into that hazy state between consciousness and unconsciousness.
Vapors of Morphine October 2021 East Coast tour as well as a European / Russian tour to be confirmed soon.
Dana Colley: Baritone and other saxes, vocals on Golden Hour
Jeremy Lyons: Guitars, basses and other stringed instruments
Jerome Deupree: Drums on Side A
Tom Arey: Drums and percussion on Side B
Produced by Vapors of Morphine with Pete Weiss (Side A) and Dave Westner (Side B)
Mastered by Peter Linnane
Direct Metal Mast by Hans-Joerg Maucksch
Special Rider Blues
Phantasos & Phobetor
Frankie & Johnny